“Why is that law on the books? Because it’s always been there and I think we just leave it,” adding that he had explained his decision in 2007 to retain Section 377A was PM Lee’s response when asked by a participant of the Singapore Perspective conference organised by the Institute of Policy Studies if “this old and archaic law” which discriminates against a whole group of people could be reconciled with a secular country such as Singapore.
This one answer perhaps best encapsulates the reason why people are increasingly turning to the opposition parties. People want well thought out answers and accountability from their leaders – not a dismissive and seemingly flippant reply.
It defies logic to suggest that just because something has always been there, it should remain as is. By that reasoning, Singapore should still remain a British Colony or that women should still be barred from voting or that slavery should remain in place! The list goes on but you catch my drift.
Laws are never static and have to be reassessed to suit changing viewpoints and needs. Just because he explained his decision in 2007 does not mean that his answer then suits the situation now – it being 5 years ago!
More worryingly, is this the attitude that the government is also taking towards other controversial issues such as the retention of the ISA or the death penalty?
Politicians are elected into government to lead our country. Leadership requires the desire and the ability to steer the country into the future. If something should be changed to reflect the direction a country should move towards, then opting for status quo displays a lack of willpower to genuinely engage with the people. It could also bring into question that leader’s foresight.
Perhaps PM Lee was quoted out of context and it is unfair to judge an entire party based on the statements of an individual. But when that individual is so inextricably linked to the PAP and is also the Prime Minister of Singapore, one cannot help but generalise and feel mildly disturbed.
I am personally for the repeal of Section 377A. As it is, it doesn’t serve any particular purpose. It has already been publicly stated that this Section will not be actively used to prosecute anyone. So, if that were the case, what is the point of it remaining on the statute books? Besides serving no purpose, it can have the added bane of causing confusion to many Singaporeans. Is it a crime or is it not?
Adolescence is a trying enough time for parents and teenagers alike. When you throw grappling with sexuality into the mix, you muddy the emotional trials that much more. Parents, teachers and caregivers will have to explain to children and teenagers that being gay might be a crime even though they might not get prosecuted for it? Not only is this a wishy washy answer, it also heightens the isolation that a gay teenager might feel.
This is a campaign that is gaining momentum and neither PM Lee nor the PAP can avoid taking a stand forever. In my private capacity, I want to see this law abolished for good but I recognise and respect that the majority of Singapore may not agree with me. But, I would still be heartened if the PM could take a genuine stand on the issue. Other leaders in the developed world have taken a stand so why not PM Lee? By evading a stand, this becomes even more needlessly controversial when it really is very simple – is it being applied? If the answer is no, then it is superfluous. End of.